Former Colt Dwayne Allen can redeem himself with Patriots

Dec 5, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen (83) on a second half first down reception against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen (83) on a second half first down reception against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports /

With Rob Gronkowski’s injury history, Dwayne Allen has a chance at redemption with the New England Patriots.

Dwayne Allen looked like a major asset to the Colts after he inked a four-year, $29 million deal with the AFC South team in 2016. Jason Fitzgerald of wrote that Allen’s signing was the worst of the year. His 406 receiving yards weren’t enough to keep him on a faltering Colts squad. Along with a 2017 sixth-round pick, Allen moved to the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2017 fourth-round pick.

Because former New England tight end Martellus Bennett will suit up for the Green Bay Packers in 2017, quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick may find themselves becoming reliant on Allen. Although the Colts were willing to let him go, Belichick values him.

“I’ve been really impressed with Allen’s blocking,” Belichick said in 2014, via ”I think he’s one of the best blocking tight ends we’ll see.”

Allen’s capability as a blocker and pass catcher made him a sensible option to serve as a second-string tight end, available to carry out first-string duties if Rob Gronkowski can’t stay healthy this season.

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Dwayne Allen, we knew he’s an extremely good player, both in the run and the pass game,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said (via before the Patriots defeated Indianapolis, 45-7, in the AFC Championship in January 2015. “This guy is a big, physical, strong guy. You can see where he also has the ability to post up against tougher situations like in the red area and be able to box out and catch touchdowns and situational plays.”

“Big, strong and physical” also characterize the play of Gronkowski well, as the 6-6 tight end adds muscle in the running game. Allen’s size and athletic ability fail to measure up to Gronkowski’s status. The 6-3, 255-pound target ran a 4.89-second 40 yard dash at the 2012 NFL Combine and fell to the third round.

Nonetheless, Allen won the John Mackey Award, which college football’s best tight end receives each year. So at first, the Colts appeared to have an exceptional tight end group with Stanford’s Coby Fleener and Allen, but the duo wasn’t making their offense as potent as it had to be.

Belichick and Brady, though, understand how to utilize a two-tight end system better than many. Last year, Bennett teamed with Gronkowski for eight games to form a dangerous tandem. At the end of the regular season, Bennett boasted a career-high seven touchdown catches and had his highest receiving average, 12.7 yards per catch, since his rookie year (2008) on the Dallas Cowboys.

Aaron Hernandez and Gronk combined for well over 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2011, making the Patriots offense a high-octane force. Hernandez was an exceptional talent. So was Gronkowski. But the Patriots get the best out of lesser knowns guys like Tim Wright, who the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed as an undrafted free in 2013.

Wright started in eight games for the Bucs and amassed 571 yards on 54 catches. Starting only two games in New England, he had 26 receptions for 259 yards.

Allen, a better blocker than Wright, poses more of a playmaking threat to defenses than Michael Hoomanawanui and could certainly outproduce Scott Chandler, who snagged 23 catches for 259 yards with the Patriots. 

Along with the other receiving weapons, the addition of Brandin Cooks — a vertical threat to stretch opposing defenses — can make that short-to-intermediate range open for Allen. The majority of opponents, occupied by Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola, won’t have the right personnel to properly cover both tight ends all of the time.

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At the end of the day, Patriots fans can’t ignore Gronkowski’s injury history. Knowing that Allen is strong backup should give them hope, almost as much as Bennett’s quality did. We’ll see if the two have alike results.